Garcia balances being a student-athlete

Being a student is tough, but being a student-athlete is extra difficult. And being a student-athlete with a job is extremely difficult. However, Luz Garcia, second-year psychology student and cross-country runner, manages to balance all three in her life.

She is quickly becoming one of the top runners on the cross country team, coming in the top during the last few races.

Garcia has been competing since high school, starting her running journey at 14 years old.

At 19, she is now in her second year of being on the Cal Poly Pomona cross country team, having joined when she was freshman.

Garcia works at the dining hall on campus and is able to balance her schoolwork, practice and work by setting different alarms so she isn’t late to anything.

When it comes to racing, Garcia already has a goal set.

“When I go into a race, my goal is to stay in a pack with my girls for as long as possible. And then, slowly progress and detach as the race unfolds,” Garcia said.

Luz Garcia (center) finished second overall during the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on October 12th. (Courtesy of CPP Athletic Department)

Garcia is a dedicated member of the team and it shows in how she is performing in her races.

In one recent race, the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, where both CPP men and women’s cross country teams placed first, Garcia placed second out of 83 runners.

“To be honest, I was a little surprised at myself just because I was one of the younger ones. Coming back from the race, I was just thinking that it really shows how much work that I’ve been putting in during the summer and through the year,” Garcia said.

Her performance has been recognized by the cross country head coach Chris Bradford, who notes the amount of effort that Garcia has been putting into the team this year.

“This year, she’s been running right with our top runner in most races. I think (she) and Elizabeth Hernandez (fourth-year cross country runner) kind of trade off a little bit. They’ve both been running really well.” Bradford said. “Her times are outstanding …. It all depends on the course and all that because the courses are all different. But for the courses she’s been running on, and honestly where’s she’s placing in races is probably more important than times. And she’s been placing well and helping lead our team to some great finishes.”

It’s not only her coach who has noticed her dedication to the team. Her teammates have noticed as well.

“As a runner, Luz is highly dedicated to her workouts and training. She takes it seriously and works hard every day to improve. She has a strong mentality when it comes to racing and it definitely shows when she’s out on the course,” freshman teammate Pearl Burton said. “She’s not one to give up easy and will continue to push through a workout or race even if she is not doing well …. Even if she is busy, she takes the time to help out friends and teammates that need her and doesn’t complain about her workload.”

Garcia makes the time to do what she is passionate about. She schedules her work and schoolwork around her meets and practices, so she never has to miss either of them.

Academically, Garcia does hope to eventually earn her master’s, although she still isn’t sure which subfield she would choose yet. She also hopes to continue running in the future and will be on the team again next year.

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